Angus Love

Athletes Use Unique Position to Call for Criminal Justice Reform

June 22, 2018 | Angus Love | The Legal Intelligencer

An ancient Chinese philosopher once opined that he wished to live in interesting times, and we certainly have that opportunity. One would think a mature society would look to elder statesmen and women, the professional class, esteemed academicians and leaders of the business community for guidance and wisdom in serious matters impacting our society. Due to a moral vacuum of our leadership, it has been left to athletes to speak up about social unrest. Unfortunately we seem to be an entertainment-driven culture, with a reality television star with a dubious business background (five bankruptcies and numerous litigation failures) to be our leader.

Our 45th president, Donald J. Trump, has created such a moral vacuum. While he brags about molesting young women, paying off porn stars and Playboy Bunnies, fathers five children with three different wives, and is a compulsive liar; he seems to lack a true moral compass. Despair seems rampant as suicides are up 25 percent in recent years and opioid deaths were up 21 percent last year. Thus it is left to those in the entertainment sector to respond to the vacuum. Oddly enough athletes have stepped up to challenge—especially those concerning the criminal justice system. In the area of criminal justice, Trump’s own problems aside; he urges police to rough up suspects, brands immigrants as criminals as his Attorney General Jeff Sessions calls for a return to the failed drug war, marijuana prohibition and harsher prison sentences. All of these measures fall most heavily on people of color and the poor.

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Mandatory Prison Sentences Aren't Necessary in Pa.

April 21, 2017 | Angus Love, Esq. | The Legal Intelligencer

On the evening of Jan. 22, 2012, John Morales tried to sell a bag of weed to Donald Clark in the parking lot of Rutter’s gas station in Waynesboro. Little did John know that Clark was a confidential ­informant working for the local police. Donald insisted that they do the transaction in the parking lot of a local church, claiming he didn’t know where the gas station was. In the church was a nursery. At the subsequent trial after John was busted, the district attorney demanded a mandatory two-year sentence under the Drug Free School Zone Act because of the nursery which triggered the enhancements. This law applies regardless of whether there was any notice that the nursery was considered to be a school and within a school zone, regardless of whether schools were in ­session. The law also includes transactions within 1,000 feet of bus routes regardless of whether the buses are running or if school is in session.

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Time for Pa. to Re-examine Life Without Parole

February 20, 2016 | Angus Love, Esq. | The Legal Intelligencer

The national mood on criminal justice issues has dramatically changed in the past few years. Fear of crime and personal safety are no longer leading political concerns as the economy and terrorism have taken their place. This past July, President Obama became the first U.S. president to visit a federal prison when he went to the El Reno Federal Prison in Oklahoma. In September, Pope Francis visited the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia during his first visit to the United States. He addressed the inmates and staff and called for more empathy and compassion in our sentencing practices. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder instituted several significant reforms at the U.S. Department of Justice aimed increasing police accountability, reducing the harsh consequences of the drug war and minimizing racial disparities in sentencing.

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Want to save money, Gov.-elect Wolf? You can start by trimming prison costs

January 13, 2015 | Angus Love and Ann Schwartzman | PennLive

The great French novelist, Victor Hugo, once observed that "to open a school is to close a prison." Gov.- elect Tom Wolf's campaign promised to replace the funding cut in education by Gov. Tom Corbett. He should heed Hugo's words in his quest for more school funding and balancing a budget with a predicted $2 billion deficit.

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has been the single largest growth area of the Commonwealth budget for many years perhaps decades.

It is time to rein it in as other states and the country have done without compromising public safety. It is one area where a bi-partisan consensus can be reached and money can be saved.

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It Is Time to Reform Laws on Marijuana Use

December 22, 2014 | Angus Love | The Legal Intelligencer

In 1934, Harry Anslinger, the nation’s first drug czar, led a campaign to outlaw marijuana. Previously, it had been used for a variety of medicinal purposes and was subject to local ordinances. Anslinger mounted a public relations campaign to achieve his goal of criminalizing the drug. Some suggested the campaign had racial overtones, especially Mexican Americans who were often portrayed as menaces to society when indulging in marijuana. Others suggested the campaign was bankrolled and publicized by William Randolph Hearst to eliminate hemp as an industrial competitor to his considerable timber/paper holdings. The movie “Reefer Madness” symbolized the campaign of fear and distortion.

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The Struggle to Slow Mass Incarceration Movement In PA

September 23, 2013 | Angus Love, Esq. | The Legal Intelligencer

During last year's annual opportunity to pontificate on institutional issues in this respected venue, I mentioned the possibility of groundbreaking legislation in Harrisburg that would address prison overcrowding. The bill, titled SB 100, did pass into law and became Act 122. This year, I will examine the final legislative product and offer my thoughts on its effectiveness and provide context on the struggle to slow the mass incarceration movement in Pennsylvania.

In my capacity as the executive director of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, I frequently tour our prisons and jails. Recently, I looked out over the recreational yard at the State Correctional Institution in Dallas, Pa., and saw hundreds of predominately young African-American men milling around and participating in several recreational activities. It brought to mind an old joke by Richard Pryor who had gone to a prison and was expecting to see the fruit of our justice system but saw only "just us," meaning a huge number of African-Americans. A similar experience in the Philadelphia Prison System was even more striking as individuals other than African-American were few and far between.

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Advocacy for Prisoners' Rights: Civil Litigation in the Criminal Justice World

Fall 2013 | Angus Love, Esq. | Management Information Exchange Journal

The long trek from arrest to release from confinement or supervision poses some interesting challenges for the civil and criminal legal organizations that represent indigent persons. More and more individuals are caught up in the ever expanding criminal justice system, especially people of color. Currently there are almost seven million persons or 2.9% of the American population under correctional supervision, including 2.5 million people in prisons. In a nation that houses 25% of the world's prison population, the need for legal assistance is enormous. This rapid expansion of the prison population, ongoing since 1980, is unprecedented in our nation's history. Curiously, the expansion occurred at the same time as and at a similar rate to the expansion in our country's income gap.

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A Consensus Is Building for Sentencing Reform

July 2, 2012 | Angus Love | The Legal Intelligencer

Pennsylvania, as well as the rest of the nation, has undergone a tremendous change in sentencing practices for the past 30 years. Policy decisions such as the introduction of the sentencing guidelines, mandatory sentences and the war on drugs have resulted in a major shift of thinking and reallocation of resources toward the increased reliance on incarceration to solve many social ills.

Legislatures and executives have taken away much of the discretion of judges and transferred much of the sentencing practices to the domain of the legislatures. They have declared the scourge of drug addiction to be a criminal problem rather than a disease and passed laws emphasizing punishment rather than treatment for addicts.

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